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Dharma Encounter: Our Suffering Sense Of Self

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
Dharma Encounter: Our Suffering Sense Of Self
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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday 10/02/2022

Dharma Encounter at the conclusion of the Mountains & Rivers Sesshin

The Buddha said there is “ordinary suffering” – dukkha – which is the everyday garden variety of suffering that you think of and experience when you hear the word “suffering”. There is the suffering that arises through “change”; i.e. you have something, and you want it to last forever, but it won’t. You have something that you don’t want, and it won’t change fast enough. You have a position, a relationship, a feeling, an accomplishment, you have a samadhi, you have something that is dear to you, and you want it to always be “just like that”. And then there is the more subtle suffering that is the skandhas themselves. (The skandhas are form, feeling, perception, volitional formation, and consciousness.) The Buddha often referred to them as “the clinging skandhas”; that we are nothing but that very process that happens within the skandhas. We don’t see it because it happens so instantaneously and then it’s gone and it happens again and again, and our consciousness creates a seamless flow so that we create an experience of continuity, a kind of permanent, ongoing coherence in our actual lived experience which we interpret or equate as a kind of permanent someone.
Then there is a kind of symphony, drawing from each of these forms of suffering, that is particular, that is directed towards ourselves; how we see that self, having identified with it, having created, and constructed it, unknowingly for the most part, being very invested in keeping it up and going. Though, never quite complete. We can identify the self (ourself) out of a habit, a behavior, an action, and interpret that as a sign of that incompleteness. (Self-doubt comes out of this.)
How is it when that sense of self is suffering itself? How do we practice this? What needs to be understood about this aspect of self? What understanding will serve to free us? How do we understand this in terms of the Four Noble Truths?
Shugen Roshi brought up these questions for students to engage with him in Dharma Encounter.

Making Contact

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
Making Contact
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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Saturday 10/01/2022

From the True Dharma Eye, Case 148 – Dongshan’s “Teachings of the Insentient”

“When we don’t hear the teachings of the insentient the world beyond ourselves can seem dead, inert, and uninteresting. Maybe that’s why we have to keep turning up the volume. And having more and more. And now let’s create worlds that don’t even exist and live in them. What kind of dangerous is this?”

“When we don’t have such moments that reveal to us, that peel back the curtain a little bit and show us there is more right here right now in the most unexpected of places. Of course we expect it in the mountains and beautiful places, but as Donghan said, it’s ceaselessly expounded. Radiantly.”

“And so we stop and turn the light around. And look deeply. And make contact. And make contact…”

Black Buddhism and Black Liberation

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
Black Buddhism and Black Liberation
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Rima Vesely-Flad

Zen Mountain Monastery, via Zoom, 09/20/2022

A seminar with author and teacher Rima Vesely-Flad exploring the themes and questions presented through her research on the distinctive practices of Black Buddhist teachers in multiple lineages as they address an oppressive social context in the U.S. Practices include healing of intergenerational trauma; honoring ancestors and the land; and turning towards the Black body as a vehicle for liberation. Rima also explores how Buddhist teachings and practices are congruent with the emphasis on psychological liberation in the Black Radical Tradition.

Hosted by ZMM and the MRO People of African Descent (PAD) group coordinators, Degna Chikei Levister and Robin Wells, and ZMM abbot Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi.

Rima Vesely-Flad’s most recent publication is Black Buddhists and the Black Radical Tradition: The Practice of Stillness in the Movement for Liberation.

The Vast Field of Wholeness

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Vast Field of Wholeness
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Danica Shoan Ankele, Senior Monastic and Dharma Holder

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Friday 09/30/2022

Recognizing our afflictions, our kleshas (states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc…) Can we appreciate them? How can we use them? Can we get close up and allow ourselves to be vulnerable? Shoan reflects on this “Gate of Vulnerability.” Without our own share of difficulty and pain, would we be embarking on a path of waking up? That’s why the human realm is considered so auspicious, because if you’re born in the god realm, life is so good you don’t do anything to actually liberate yourself. As Thich Nhat Hanh said: “No mud, no lotus.”

 

Fusatsu: The Boundless Body of Peace is You

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
Fusatsu: The Boundless Body of Peace is You
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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Thursday Evening 09/29/2022

Dharma Talk during the Mountains and Rivers Sesshin Fusatsu Ceremony

Buddhism speaks of the “Bodies of the Buddha.” For instance, Master Dogen, in his Fascicle The Moon, speaks of the Boundless Body and the Buddha Body. Shugen Roshi reflects on how the Fusatsu ceremony invokes these bodies, and how, when we are practicing the dharma, they begin to appear from within our own vows, out of our selflessness… “So we return to these vows, these precepts. We reflect, we invoke the names of the Buddha, the four vows, the three treasures… to remember again, and align ourselves with what is important… it is not a rule, it is not a creed, it’s not even Buddhism, not at it’s heart… but you could say it’s you.”

 

Ceaseless Becoming

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
Ceaseless Becoming
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Ely Seiryu Rayek, Senior Lay Student

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Wednesday 09/28/2022

Seiryu offers his understanding of the dharma of everyday life, dependent co-origination; the practical reality of ceaseless becoming.

 

Constantly Impermanent

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
Constantly Impermanent
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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday 09/25/2022

From the Book of Serenity, Case 75 – Ruiyan’s “Constant Principle”

We might normally think we understand that nothing lasts, everything is impermanent, yet we suffer from our misunderstanding of this all the time, for instance when something happens and we react thinking oh, this is forever, this is the way it’s going to be from now on, I am this, I am that,…. This is why it’s so important to deeply study our suffering; not just know that we suffer, but to deeply study the intricate details of how we suffer.

 

 

Beginner’s Mind

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
Beginner's Mind
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Chris Yudo Abraham, Senior Lay Student

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday  09/18/2022

From Shunryu Suzuki: “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”

What is beginner’s mind? Where is beginner’s mind? Yudo describes his path in zen practice as one of appreciating Beginner’s Mind and the constant returning to Zazen as the heart of it.

 

 

The Far-off Moon

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Far-off Moon
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Patrick Yunen Kelly, Senior Lay Student

Zen Center of New York City, Fire Lotus Temple, Sunday 09/18/2022

Yunen offers insight into the thusness of negative experiences and emotions. He explores what comes when we allow sad to just be sad, tribulations to simply be tribulations.

Dwelling Together, Intermingling, Without Hindrance

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The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
The Zen Mountain Monastery Podcast
Dwelling Together, Intermingling, Without Hindrance
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Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Roshi

Zen Mountain Monastery, New York, Sunday 09/11/2022

From The Blue Cliff Record, Case 35 – The Dialog of Manjusri and Wu Cho

“In the first moment of contact, what we see, what we hear, is not obscured. Sound and form are purely real, they are just as they are, they are not anything other. But our mind, in an instant, before we know it, without our seeing it, floods that image or that sound or that taste, or touch, with all of our mind’s karmic burden. All our perceptions, our views, our beliefs, our memories, and so on. While our senses simply perceive things, non-obscured, our mind then begins to in a flash obscures and gives meaning, which is taught. Everything in society teaches us what those things mean. All of those ways we separate and exclude and include and create conflict and wealth and poverty, the whole mass of suffering.

“To be able to separate the profound from the naive, to distinguish a jewel from a stone, is actually necessary. If we can’t discern within our own practice of what is practice according to the dharma and what is not, what is a serving or habitual desire, and what is an impulse or sense of a direction that we can trust, it’s going to be very difficult to practice. So we need to learn how to distinguish. But to do so without malice, without ill will. With clarity. And without infusing a sense of absolute truth into those things that we are discerning.”